John Oliver Brewer, Co. E 1st Arkans. Infantry

I spent thirteen years living in State College, Pennsylvania, right next door to Boalsburg.  In addition to housing possessions from Christopher Columbus, Boalsburg makes another claim to fame.  The tiny little town of Boalsburg is one of several that claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day commemorations.  The graves of fallen Union soldiers were decorated starting in October 1864.  Of course, there are lots of places that claim this honor.  But Boalsburg is the one I am familiar with.  Every year, there is a large Memorial Day commemoration there.

There are many veterans in every generation in my family tree, some in my direct line, some among the uncles, aunts, and cousins.  John Oliver Brewer is one who is almost in my line. John Oliver Brewer was the first husband of my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Louise Council.

John and Sarah married in 1858 in Sebastian County, Arkansas and started a family there. Their first child, a daughter, Mary Angeline Brewer, was born in February 1860 and lived just a few months.  Their second child, a son, Philip Dodridge Brewer, was born in June of 1861.

Northwest Arkansas was a hotbed of border tensions during the Civil War.  Even though it was a part of the Confederacy, there apparently was a large degree of support for the Union in the area.  According to Grandmother Dickson, this led to things being pretty ugly from time to time and to people being pressed into service on one side or the other at the point of a rifle.

In the spring of 1863, on March 10, John Oliver Brewer enlisted in the 1st Arkansas Infantry of the Union Army.  His brother had joined the Union Cavalry already.  John never say service.  After being mustered in at Fort Smith, he went with his unit north to Fayetteville.  Were he caught the measles.  John Oliver Brewer died in hospital in Faytetteville on the 18th of May, 1863, barely two months into his service.  He left his young widow, Sarah, behind with a young son to care for.

Fold3_Page_4_Case_Files_of_Approved_Pension_Applications_of_Widows_and_Other_Dependents_of_Civil_War_Veterans_ca_1861_ca_1910-Brewer, Sarah
Sarah Louise Council Brewer Pension Application, 1864

In 1867, Sarah remarried to Hume Field Bailey and had a substantial family, including my great-grandfather, Charles Council Bailey.  in 1891, Hume died.  In her old age, Sarah again fell back on her status as the widow of a Union veteran who died in service.  She applied again for a pension, after proving that her second husband (Hume) had never served in the Union Army and had certainly never served the Confederacy.  Again she was awarded a small pension to assist in her old age that she continued to receive until her death.

Phil was adopted by Hume and grew up to have a successful career as an attorney.  He was the first commissioner of the Oklahoma State Supreme Court as Oklahoma transitioned from a territory into statehood.

bailey-docs-0232-f-v00
Philip Dodridge Brewer Obituary

In the end, had it not been for John Oliver Brewer’s service with the Union Army, I wouldn’t be here today, I suppose.  I don’t know how he felt about enlisting and serving.  But it seems sort of anticlimactic to be struck down by what we consider now to be a childhood disease while in camp.

 

 

 

Chipping Away at a Dickson Brick Wall – Part 4

Sometimes help comes from unexpected quarters.

In my on-going research on the Dickson family, I have talked off and on to other researchers.  Over the last few weeks, I have been corresponding with another Dickson researcher about my line.  Prior to finding the picture I talked about in the last section, I hadn’t really had a good connection to her line at all.  But, with the firm connection to David Dickson, the wall starts to tumble down.

Ann, the other researcher, told me of a group of Dickson researchers who pooled their efforts a few years back.  A book, compiled by Claire Jean Potter Ferguson Sullivan, Ph. D., came out of those efforts that traces this Dickson family back to about 1607.  As it turns out, this is one of the books that is not only available from the Family History Library, but is available online!!  You can find the FHL library entry and the digital version here.

I am so excited!  Of course, this is a Ronald Reagan moment – trust but verify.  It looks like there is good documentation in this book. Many of the references and documents it uses are included in the text, but it still needs to be analyzed and verified.  I did Y-DNA testing some time back.  Now to see if this plays out with the documentation.

It looks like my line could be:

  • Grandparents – Robert H. Dickson, Jr. (b. 1919, d. 2007) and Susan Louise Bailey (b. 1919, d. 2006)
  • Great-grandparents – Robert H. Dickson, Sr. (b. 1878, d. 1942) and Ethel Mildred Garner (b. 1887, d. 1974)
  • Great-great-grandparents – John H. Dickson (b. 1836, d. bef. 1889) and Martha A. Taylor (b. 1858, d. bef. 1942)
  • 3-great-grandparents – David Dickson (b. 1808) and Eliza Johnson (b. 1812)
  • 4-great-grandparents – Joseph Dickson, Jr. (b. abt. 1785) and Mary McNairy (b. 1791)
  • 5-great-grandparents – Joseph Dickson, Sr. (b. 1744) and Elizabeth Moulton (b. abt 1757)
  • 6-great-grandparents – John Dickson, Sr. (b. abt 1704, County Down, Ireland)
  • 7-great-grandparents – Michael Dickson (b. abt 1682) and Nancy Campbell
  • 8-great-grandparents – Joseph Dickson II (b. abt 1657)
  • 9-great-grandparents – Joseph Dickson I (b. abt 1630)
  • 10-great-grandparents – Simon Dickson (b. abt 1607, England)

It seems like the documentary trail gets fuzzier as you go farther back, but this is at least a good place to start.  And while the book identifies the Dickson line, it also identifies many of the grandmothers and even some of their parents and grandparents.

I feel pretty good about the line back to the immigrants.  They come from Ireland to Chester County, Pennsylvania and then move down into North Carolina.  From there, they head to Tennessee and into Alabama and Mississippi.

Each generation opens up a whole new set of research possibilities.

So, now to start to verify and be confident of all of this new data.  Looks like my work may be cut out for me for the next several months or years.

Chipping Away at a Dickson Brick Wall – Part 2

This is the second in a series where I try to unravel and figure out my Dickson ancestry. I am not necessarily working toward a narrative goal here.  I am mostly capturing my research to be sure that I have a sensible understanding of the family.

In the first part, we started with our most recent known facts and started to work backwards.  We began with my grandfather, Robert Harrison Dickson, Jr, and traced his family and movements backward.

Eventually, we found him in a family as a child with his parents, Robert Harrison Dickson Sr. and Ethel Garner Dickson. Tracing that family back through the census, we found Robert Sr, as a child in the family of his parents, John H. Dickson and Martha A. Dickson.  We stopped at the first census where Robert Sr. appeared – 1880 US Federal Census of Prairie County, Arkansas.

In this post, we will try to round out John H. Dickson’s immediate family a little bit so that we can make some more progress.  We will also identify a possible family of origin for him that we will look at more later on.

On the very first day that I ever went to a library to search in the census, back in 1988, in the 1880 census, I found John H. Dickson and his young family in Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas.  We identify the family because we find Robert H. Dickson Sr, his brother Cecil, and his sister Minnie in the household.  The 1880 census is important because it gives two new pieces of information not found on previous censuses.  First, it shows the relationship of a person to the head of household.  Second, it shows where a person’s parents were born.  Robert, Cecil, and Minnie are listed as children of John, so we know for sure at least who their father is.  We are pretty sure of the mother, but the proof is not quite as solid yet. 1

1880 US Census - Dickson2
1880 US Federal Census, Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas

This census reports that John H. Dickson was born in Alabama, his father was born in Tennessee, and his mother was born in Virginia.  His wife, Martha, reports that she was from Alabama.  The two older children (Robert and his brother Cecil) were born in Mississippi and the youngest child (Minnie) was born in Arkansas.  The information on the children fits what we already know, so we are confident we are looking at the right family.

The oldest child is 4 years old, indicating a birth in about 1876.  If we look for marriage records, we find a record in a database of Mississippi marriages for J.H. Dickson to Martha A. Taylor on 12 Sept 1872 in Desoto County, Mississippi. 2  This fits with where Robert H. Dickson Sr. reported that he was born, so we are fairly certain this is the right marriage.  But it also tells us that we will not find the couple together in the 1870 Census.  Instead, we will have to look for each of them (John and Martha) as children in homes of thieir parents or else as individuals or else as parts of other families.  John’s age indicates that he could have had a previous marriage; Martha’s age indicates that a previous marriage is unlikely for her.

Searching the census for a family where John H. Dickson, born about 1836 in Alabama, perhaps with parents from Tennessee and Virginia, we find one family that is a good fit.  In 1870, in Desoto County, Mississippi, we find the family of David Dickson with a number of children. 3  This appears to be our most likely candidate family.  In fact, it seems like the only one we find in a census search that comes very close.  However it has its own issues that we will need to work through.

1870 US Census - Dickson
1870 US Federal Census, Township 5R7,  DeSoto County, Mississippi

In particular, the way the surnames are reported looks a little odd.  Typically, when a line or ditto marks are shown, that means that the surname is the same as the one above.  If that were the case for this entry, then we would expect this family to be David and Eliza Dickson, Mary E. Williams, John H. Williams and a number of other Williams folks.  We might think that John must be Mary’s husband from this or a brother in a different family.  So, it’s a confusion that we need to work through.  Our initial suspicion is that Mary is in fact Mary Williams, but the ditto marks for the rest of the family refer to Dickson rather than Williams.  That would mean that she probably was a daughter who married and is now listed back in this family rather than in her own family.  So, we will look further and come back to see if this holds up.

Stepping back one more census, to 1860, we again look for John H. either in his own family, his parents family, or somewhere else.  When we look again at David Dickson / Dixon, we find his family, along with John, in Leake County, Mississippi, in the center of the state rather than the north of the state. 4  In this family, David and his wife Eliza and John are all consistent.  The children change somewhat, but they appear to be consistent with the later census.  John is listed out of order from the rest of the children, presumably because he is old enough to be on his own, so is considered by the census taker separately from minor children.

1860 US Census - Dickson
1860 US Federal Census, Carthage, Leake County, Mississippi

If we take one more step back in the census, to 1850, we find John as a child in the home of David and Eliza again. 5  At this point, they are located in Marengo County, Alabama about 140 miles east of Carthage, their location in 1860.

At this point, it might be valuable to summarize the family across the censuses.  The following table shows the individuals in David and Eliza’s household across the census years, along with ages and birth places.

Name 1850 Census
Marengo, Ala.
1860 Census
Leake, Miss.
1870 Census
DeSoto, Miss.
1880 Census
David Dickson 42, Tennessee 52, Tennessee 62, Tennessee
Eliza 38, Virginia 48, Virginia 58, Virginia (in the home of J.F. Pardue, Tate, Miss.)
60, Alabama
Mary 14, Alabama (Mary E.Williams)
35, Alabama
(Mary Gates, in home of A.J. Gates,
Lonoke, Ark.)
44, Alabama
John 12, Alabama 22, Alabama 32, Alabama (Prairie, Ark.)
44, Alabama
Lucinda 8, Alabama 18, Alabama
Frances 5, Mississippi 15, Mississippi 25, Mississippi
Ann 3, Alabama (Hester A.)
13, Alabama
(Hester Ann)
22, Alabama
William 8, Alabama 18, Alabama (W.A.,
Tate, Miss.)
29, Alabama
Lucy A. 5, Alabama 15, Alabama (L.A. Pardue,
Tate, Miss.)
25, Alabama

As we mentioned before, the 1870 census is interesting in that a large number of young children are listed, all born in Mississippi.  These appear to be the children of Mary  E. Williams.   The oldest is 13 years old and the youngest is 7 years old.  This could put some brackets around a possible date for when she and her husband were no longer together and give us a way to search for what happened to him.  There is also a 63 year old woman, Lucy Vaugh, born in Virginia in the home.  A theory would be that she could be Mary’s older sister.  This is worth pursuing.

All of this is pretty good circumstantial evidence that John H. Dickson, my ancestor, is a part of this family.  The census isn’t iron-clad proof, though.  And I still don’t have anything that says “David is John’s father” or “John is David’s son.”  I’m close though.

In the next post, I will share a picture that tied this together, at least to my satisfaction, and can let me move on to the next step.


  1. 1880 US Federal Census, Prairie County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Bridge Bend Township, ED 247, page 211, dwelling 218, family 218, John H. Dickson. 
  2. Ancestry.com, “Mississippi Marriages, 1776-1935,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2012), J.H. Dickson to Martha Taylor, 11 Dec 1872, Desoto County. 
  3. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Desoto County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Township 5 R 7, page 52, dwelling 365, family 365, David Dickson. 
  4. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Leake County, Mississippi, pop. sch., Carthage post office, page 67, dwelling 426, family 426, David Dixon. 
  5. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Marengo County, Alabama, pop. sch., Not stated, page 44, dwelling 304, family 304, David Dickson. 

A Tale of Two Otways – Part 2

In Part 1 of this, we learned that there were two men, both named Otway Licepious Bailey, born nearly the same time, residing in Arkansas and Texas at about the same time and we set out to unravel them.  We discovered who “My” Otway, born 1831, was, where he was when, and a little bit about his story.

In this episode of our story, we will meet and get to know the “Other” Otway.

“The Other” Otway – Otway Licepious Bailey, born 1829, North Carolina

Bailey, Otway, 1829, Civil War Service
Civil War Service Record for Ottway L. Bailey

The first hint that something weird might going on comes when my researcher friend, Jane, asks me about the Confederate service record I found for Ottway L. Bailey. 1

According to this record, Ottway enlisted in the 26th Arkansas Infantry (also called the 3rd Trans-Mississippi Infantry) in June, 1862 at Tulip, Arkansas.  Tulip is in Dallas County, Arkansas.  Initially, I thought nothing strange about this record, but when Jane asked about it, I began to wonder.

Grandmother always said her ancestors had not served in the Confederacy.  More importantly, Tulip, Dallas County, Arkansas is not part of any of the family migrations.

Tulip, Smith Township, is located southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, near the town of Carthage.  All of the Bailey families in our line had been pretty much on a path across what is today Interstate 40 – moving from Pope County toward Sebastian County, before heading to Texas.  While this is only a few counties north of Tulip, none of our Baileys have been found in the area of Dallas County, Arkansas.

In particular, at the time in question, the summer of 1862, “my” Otway had been a long-time resident of Dallas County, TEXAS.  What else could we figure out to separate these men? 2

So, we start from the start.  What do we know about “the other” Otway and what more can we find out?

Starting with the service record, it appears that Otway enlisted in a unit that was part of what was called the “Trans-Mississippi”.  It covered units from Arkansas, Texas, and the southwest of the Confederacy.  These units designations seem to change from time to time, sometimes being listed as Texas units and sometimes as Arkansas.  But his original unit was an Arkansas infantry unit, organized in Dallas County, Arkansas.  Shortly after enlisting, he was detached to an artillery battery.  He may have been given a surgeon’s discharge, but the records are fuzzy on this.  In any event, he enlisted in August 1862 for three years or the duration of the war.  It’s not really clear how long he actually served.

That puts him in Dallas County, Arkansas in 1862, so the natural next step is to search the census before and after.  An extensive search has yet to turn up an 1860 census record for Otway (b. 1829).  In 1870, however, we find him in Tulip with a young family – a wife, Laura, and three young children, Pinck, Fannie, Otway Licepious Jr. 3

1870 US Census - Bailey, OL
1870 US Federal Census, Tulip, Dallas County, Arkansas

This is where we begin to make some headway and where things get really pretty interesting.  We see that Otway is 41 years old in 1870, giving us a birth year of 1829.  He is from North Carolina.  His wife, Laura V., is 27 years old and born in Mississippi.

Typically, one wants to work backward from the most recent facts.  In this case, there are certainly facts to find coming forward and going back that will help us.  So, we will do a bit of research in both directions at once.

First, who is Laura?  We find a record of a marriage between Otway L. Bailey and Laura V. Stokes on 22 November 1865. 4  But we also find one for a marriage between Otway L. Bailey and Mattie A. Stokes on 19 Feb 1874. 5  Based on the ages of the children, it appears that Otway and his young wife, Laura have a family fairly quickly and then something happens.

Searching further in Find-A-Grave, we find three interesting tombstones in the Tulip Cemetery.  First, we find a grave for Laura V. Stokes Bailey giving her birth as 29 December 1842 and her death as January 1873 with an inscription that says she was the wife of O.L. Bailey. 6  We also find a grave for Mattie A. Stokes, born 12 December 1838, died 21 May 1874, inscribed “wife of O.L. Bailey.” 7  But, we also find a third grave for Bettie F. Saunders Bailey, born 29 Jan 1838, died 14 September 1865, “wife of O.L. Bailey.” 8

From this, there can be no question that Otway was married at least three times.  Each wife died quite young, but based on the ages of the children, all of them were born to Laura V. Stokes Bailey.  First he married Bettie F. Saunders, where, we are not yet sure.  But, we know that he married Laura Stokes, and after she died, he married her older sister.  The 1860 Census for the Stokes family shows us this. 9

So, what happened next to Otway?  He does not appear in the 1880 Arkansas census.  I have not been able to example land or tax records in Arkansas to any great extent, so I have not been able to identify when he bought and sold land, indicating that he was coming or going from the state.  But a broader search in the 1880 census finds a single match that appears to be him.  Otway L. Bailey, born 1829, is living in Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, working in a warehouse.  He is alone, living as a boarder. 10  What of his family ?  Has he married again?  The children should not be old enough to be on their own yet.  They wold be at most 13 years old in 1880.

1880 US Census - Bailey, GP
1880 US Federal Census, Oregonville, Rockingham County, North Carolina, Dr. Giles P. Bailey

Searching for the children finds them in the home of Dr. Giles P. Bailey in Rockingham County, North Carolina.  He lists them as his nephews.  Fannie is missing, but a young Robert W. has been added, born in 1872. 11  At this point, we have to backtrack a bit to figure this part out.

Searching in 1850, we find what appears to be Otway listed in the household with an older woman, Nancy Stubblefield.  It is not clear the relationship to Nancy, but it seems likely that she is an older relative of some sort. This is an area that needs to be pursued.  We will come back to this shortly. 12

The Census at this point has mostly  run out as a source for us.  But, Ancestry has recently published a lot of will and probate records.  Searching that, we find a huge cache of helpful documents.  First, we find a will for Giles P. Bailey 13 that names all of his siblings, including his brother Otway.  It also names his nieces and nephews.  Giles must have been close to his nephews Robert, or at least seen some potential in him.  Giles provided funds for Robert to pursue a liberal education preparing him for a profession.  Giles, himself, had attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in medicine, 14 just as his father had. 15

Using Giles’ will, along with his father’s 16 and his mother’s 17 wills, we can get a clear enough picture of the family to see that Dr. Otway Licepious Bailey, born 12 Sept 1793, married Sena Bethell, born 1795, in 1821 in Rockingham County, North Carolina.  They had at least five children: Nancy B. “Fannie”, Giles Pinkney, Sarah Jane, Otway Licepious, and Eliza Virginia.  When Otway Sr. and Sena died, they distributed their property, but kept it locked up in life estates or undivided until all of the children had come of age.

In the meantime, Otway appears to have decided to move west for one reason or another.  While searching for him in North Carolina and Virginia, we find his marriage record where he marries Betty F. Saunders on 31 May 1856 in Wythe County, Virginia. 18  That means that he and Bettie must have moved west together; they were married prior to the move and she lived until he returned from the War.

But, why go to Arkansas?  The answer isn’t completely clear, but here’s what seems likely:  Remember Nancy Stubblefield?  Remember that Otway’s mother was Sena Bethell and that she was named Watt when she died?  Well, in searching the 1860 Census for Dallas County, Arkansas, those names – Bethell, Stubblefield, Watt – all occur pretty frequently for a small county, and they occur among people born in North Carolina.  I am pretty sure that a little research would show a migration pattern.

But, it’s more interesting than that.  Otway’s second wife, Laura, the mother of their children was the daughter of Dudley G. Stokes of Caswell County, North Carolina and his wife … wait for it … Frances W. Bethell of Rockingham County, North Carolina. 19 20  It’s pretty clear to me, though by no means proven, that Laura’s mother was in some way kin to Otway’s mother and that Otway moved west with a group of people that he had at least passing familiarity.  This just proves how important it is to follow the “FAN Club” in genealogical research.  That’s Friends, Associates, and Neighbors.

So, how do “my” Otway, b. 1831, and the “other” Otway, b. 1829, connect?  Turns out that they are first cousins.  Otway, b. 1829’s father was Otway, b. 1793.  Otway, b. 1831’s, father was Francis Baker Bailey.  Francis Baker Bailey and Otway, b. 1793, where two of the several sons of Revolutionary War veteran Peter Cock Bailey.  But that’s a story for another day.

In the end, there really were two Otways living in Arkansas about the same time and sorting them out was really a pretty interesting exercise.


  1. “Civil War Service,” digital images, NARA, Fold3.com (http://fold3.com : accessed 31 March 2016), Ottway L. Bailey. 
  2. History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties, p. 623. 
  3. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Tulip, Smith Township, Page 26, Dwelling 181, Family 179, Otway L Bailey. 
  4. FamilySearch.org, “Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1944,” database, FamilySearch.org (http://familysearch.org : accessed 9 April 2016), Otway L Bailey and Laura V Stokes, 22 Nov 1865; citing Dallas, Arkansas FHL microfim 985, 892. 
  5. “Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1944,” database Otway L Bailey and Mattie H Stokes, 10 Feb 1874; citing FHL Microfilm 985,892. 
  6. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital images (http:/findagrave.com : accessed 10 April 2016), Laura V. Stokes Bailey, Memorial no. 6611271, created by Pat Hall, Laura V. Stokes Bailey. 
  7. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, Martha A. Stokes Bailey, Memorial no. 6611274, created by Pat Hall, Martha A. Stokes Bailey. 
  8. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, Bettie F. Sanders Bailey, Memorial no. 6610491, created by Pat Hall, Bettie F. Sanders Bailey. 
  9. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Princeton Township, Page 103, Dwelling 650, Family 650, Fannie W. Stokes. 
  10. 1880 US Federal Census, Pittsylvania County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Danville, ED 181, Page 36, Dwelling 316, Family 489, Otway Bailey. 
  11. 1880 US Federal Census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Oregon Township, ED 318, Page 15, Dwelling 115, Family 134, Dr. Giles P Bailey. 
  12. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, pop. sch., Eastern District, Page 61, Dwelling 438, Family 447, O.L. Bailey. 
  13. Ancestry.com, “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 2 April 2016), Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Giles P Bailey. 
  14. General Catalogue of the Medical Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania: with an Historical Sketch of the Origin, Progress, and Present State of the Medical Department (Philadelphia: Medical Faculty of the University, 1845), p. 162. 
  15. The American Medical Recorder of Original Papers and Intelligence in Medicine and Surgery (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1820), p. 315. 
  16. “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Otway L Bailey. 
  17. “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” database Rockingham County, Wills, 1804-1864, Sena B Watt. 
  18. Ancestry.com, “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 10 April 2016), Wythe County, 31 May 1856, Otaway Bailey to Betty F. Saunders. 
  19. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Arkansas, pop. sch., Princeton Township, Page 81, Dwelling 548, Family 548, Dudley G. Stokes. 
  20. “North Carolina, Marriage Index, 1741-2004,” database Rockingham County, Dudley G. Stokes to Frances W. Bethell. 

A Tale of Two Otways – Part 1

Who the heck would name their son Otway Licepious Bailey?  Apparently, several people.

My great-great grandfather, Hume Field Bailey, had a brother named Otway Licepious Bailey.  And Hume had an uncle named Otway Licepious Bailey.  But, who would think that there would be two Otway Licepious Baileys living in fairly close proximity to each other, born about the same time, and not obviously connected?  Well, it happened.  And here’s how we untangled them.

This will end up as maybe several posts.  Ol’ Myrt, one of the premier genealogists around, pointed out that a blog post should answer a single question.  This one will focus on the “my” Otway.  We’ll see where he was when.  Then, we will look at the “other” Otway and his story.  Finally, we will connect the dots between them.

I had always known of “my” Otway and had a little bit of information on him.  I had his birth, death, marriage, list of his children, but that was about all since he wasn’t in my direct line.  I also had found what I thought was a Confederate service record for him.  It was for Otway L. Bailey from Arkansas. Got to be this guy, right?  I was young and impatient back then.  So I added it and moved on, years ago before I became quite as suspicious as I am today.

Years pass and I get an email from another researcher, Jane.  She is working on an application for the United Daughters of the Confederacy and thinks this might be the ticket in.  Could I help with some more information?  See, she had found the “other” Otway living in a nearby county.  Are they really the same person or are they different?  And the more I started to think about it, the Confederate service seemed so unlikely to me, based on the rest of the family.  This was my grandmother Susan Louise Bailey’s family and she was always pleased with the fact that none of her Bailey ancestors had served in the Confederacy.  (I guess she didn’t know about her Deshazo ancestors service or all those Bailey slaves back in the day.  Other stories for other days.)

“My” Otway – Otway Licepious Bailey, born 1831, Virginia

“My” Otway Licepious Bailey was born 25 Mar 1831 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. 1  His parents were Francis Baker Bailey and Evalina Belmont Hill.  The family moved around quite a bit.  They started in Virginia, moved on to Kentucky, through Tennessee, and on to Arkansas.  Otway’s biography says that his father even made a prospecting trip to Texas in 1848.  It appears that the family was in central Arkansas just prior to Arkansas statehood. 2 That’s another research topic for another day.

Francis and Evalina had twelve children and eventually settled in Missouri.  I’ve got a number of letters back and forth between the children, their parents and the cousins on both sides that pretty well nail down who was where when, at least after they settled in Arkansas and Missouri.

Otway was no stationary target, himself.  By the time he was a teenager, the family had settled in Pope County, Arkansas around Gally Rock (Galla Rock).  In his later years, a biography of Otway was published in a history of Tarrant County, Texas. 3  It tells a lot about his migrations.  Every few years, there was a move a little farther west.  Otway took an apprenticeship as a gunsmith and blacksmith in Clarksville, Johnson County, Arkansas.  Then he moved to Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas to work as a gunsmith.  In the 1850 census, we find him back with the family in Gally Rock. 4 By 1853, he had moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas to work as a gunsmith and married Amanda G. Colvin there.

Amanda was a native of Illinois, having moved south with her family, possibly after a stint in the Republic of Texas.  That’s another research topic for another day.

In May 1856, Otway and Amanda moved to Austin, Travis County, Texas and then moved to Dallas County a year after that.  They remained in Dallas County for some eighteen years, more or less, before moving to Tarrant County, just one county west.  In 1902, they moved north to Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, presumably to be closer to their daughter’s family.  This is all born out by letters from Otway and Amanda, census records, and county histories. 5 6 7 8 9

According to his obituary in the Edmond (Oklahoma) Sun, though Otway never served in the military during the Civil War, the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy awarded him the Southern Cross of Valor for his service overseeing an armory in Lancaster, Dallas County Texas, owing to his experience as a gunsmith and blacksmith.

There was certainly an armory in Lancaster and the pistols it produced are some of the most sought after by Civil War gun collectors today.  But to date, nothing indicates that he was in any way in charge of the armory or in a management position.  We have not even found a record that he worked there, though it certainly seems plausible.

Otway and Amanda had twelve children, according to the 1910 census, with only five of them still alive in 1910.  It appears from a family record that there could have been several children born late in their marriage that did not survive young childhood. 10

Otway died 8 Oct 1914 in Edmond, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, where he and Amanda had moved some years earlier to be near their daughter, Lucy. 11

In the next chapter of this saga, we will meet “the other” Otway.

 


  1. Family data, Otway L. Bailey Family Bible, The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments: translated from the Original Tongues and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised, (New York: American Bible Society, 1866); original owned by [address for private use], copies received from Susan Louise Bailey. 
  2. History of Texas together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties: Containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families (Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1895), p. 623. 
  3. History of Texas 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Pope County, Arkansas, pop. sch., , p. 276, dwelling 502, family 502, Francis P. Bailey. 
  5. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Texas, pop. sch., Farmers Branch, Precinct No. 21, Page 66, Dwelling 445, Family 445, O.S. Bailey. 
  6. Ancestry.com, “Texas, Voter Registration Lists, 1867-1869,” database, Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2016), O.L. Bailey, No. 684. 
  7. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Dallas County, Texas, pop. sch., Precinct 1, Dallas, Page 220, Dwelling 1402, Family 1395, Barley, Otway L. 
  8. 1880 US Federal Census, Tarrant County, Texas, pop. sch., Oak Grove, Precinct 7, ED 98, Page 1, Household 4, O.L. Bailey. 
  9. 1900 US Federal Census, Tarrant County, Texas, pop. sch., Precinct 7, ED 120, Sheet 5, Household 66, Family 66, O.L. Bailey. 
  10. 1910 US Federal Census, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, pop. sch., Edmond City, ED 190, Sheet 17B, Dwelling 392, Family 399, 575 South Broadway, Otway L. Bailey. 
  11. Otway Lysuipous Bailey, Edmond Sun, Edmond, Oklahoma Co., Oklahoma, 15 October 1914. 

Chipping Away at a Dickson Brick Wall – Part 1

On the very first day that I ever went to a library to actually do genealogical research, way back in 1989, I found the name of my great-great-grandfather, John H. Dickson.  Until the spring of 2015, that was the last confirmed, documented link I could find going back on that line. Now, I am beginning to be able to chip away at that wall.  My goal has been to find the next links in the chain on my Dickson lineage.  This post will start to summarize what I know to date and where I want to go next.

I expect that this will take several posts to summarize the research so far and to get to any sort of conclusions.  This follows my Dickson line – father to father to father to father.  That’s where my biggest gaps are.  And as I can figure out who the Dickson male ancestors are, I can then figure out more about their wives and the grandmothers, opening up whole new sections of the tree.

There are lots of stories and pictures about Granddad and his parents, but this thread is primarily focused on the research.  We’ll be back to fun stuff shortly.

When doing genealogical research, it is always important to start with what you know and work backward.  So, let’s start with a tiny piece of the tree as a picture.  This one already gives away some of the story, but that’s okay.

dickson-tree-01

Robert Harrison Dickson, Jr., my grandfather, was born 29 Nov 1919 in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  His parents were Robert Harrison Dickson and Ethel Mildred Garner Dickson.  In April 1940, Robert married Susan Louise Bailey, from Hackett, also in Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Starting with the 1940 census and working backward, we find Robert in Fort Smith reliably.  In 1940, Robert and Susan, both age 20, are living with Robert’s parents at 2230 N. 29th St. in Fort Smith.  This would have been not too long after Robert and Susan married.  None of Robert’s siblings are living there with them; the household is only the four of them – Robert Sr, Ethel, Robert Jr, and Susan.

1940 US Census - Dickson.JPG
U.S. 1940 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 66-33, Sheet 22

In 1930, Robert is a child in his parents house, along with his brother Richard and sister Evelyn.  They are living at the same address as in 1940.  Robert Sr., age 51, reports that he was born in Mississippi, as was his father, and that his mother was born in Alabama.

1930 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1930 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 66-33, Sheet 4A

In 1920, Robert Jr is an infant, just one month old, in the house with Robert Sr, Ethel, Richard, and Evelyn.  They are living this time at 2124 N. 14th St. in Forth Smith.  In this census, Robert Sr. is listed as 42 years old, born in Mississippi.  But his father is reported born in Alabama and mother born in Tennessee.  One of the keys to figuring out Robert Sr.’s family is going to be where the parents are born.

1920 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1920 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 148, Sheet 4A

This is as far back in the census as we find Robert Jr, since he was born in 1919.  So, we turn our attention to Robert Sr. now.

Robert Harrison Dickson Sr. was born on 12 August 1878 in Coldwater, Tate County, Mississippi.  This is a fact found on his death certificate and one that Granddad repeated about his father often.  Robert moved with his family to Arkansas not long after he was born, settling first in Prairie County and then moving on to Rudy in Crawford County.

As I said previously, in my first experience with Census research, I found Robert’s father – John H. Dickson.  I believe his mother to be Martha A. Taylor, though I have less concrete reasons for this – she isn’t reliably and consistently reported.

It appears that not long after coming to Arkansas, Robert’s father, John, died and his mother remarried.  The story that Robert Jr told was that the second husband, Jack A. Jones, wasn’t well liked by the children, was mean, and never allowed the first husband to be mentioned.  So, Robert Sr. grew up not knowing a lot about his father.  Then, he left home early and didn’t have close contact with the family over the years.  So, a lot of the trail runs dry as a result.  That’s what I am trying to uncover.  I have heard from some other parts of the family that Jack’s children from his first marriage didn’t think much of their stepmother, either.  I suspect this wasn’t the model blended family.

In addition to the census, we rely on other documents to place Robert and then measure how well all of the documents agree or disagree.  For example, in his World War I draft registration, he reports his birth as 12 August 1877 rather than the 1878 we have though before.  His ages reported in 1940, 1930, and 1900 agree with an 1878 birthdate.  In 1920 and 1880, his reported age matches the 1877 birth.  1900 agrees with neither.

We find Robert Sr, age 30, in the 1910 census in Fort Smith living as a lodger in a boarding house at 118 N. 6th St.  His occupation is listed as a machinist in a factory.  His parents and he are all listed as being born in Arkansas.  The discrepancy in both his age and all of the birth places makes me think that someone besides him provided the in formation to the census taker.  Remember from the 1920 census that Robert was 34 when he married for this first time so from a timeline perspective, this still makes sense.

1910 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1910 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, ED 153, Page 28

In 1900, Robert is not in Arkansas.  Instead, we find him, aged 21, living as a boarder with a minister and his family in the Creek Nation in pre-statehood Indian Territories.  He’s working there as a farm laborer.  In this case, Robert is listed as born in 1878 (correct), born in Mississippi (correct), with his father born in Georgia and mother born in Mississippi (not in line with other records).  So far, we have not landed with the same birthplaces for his parents more than once.  Again, as a lodger, it is likely that someone besides him reported his facts to the census taker.

1900 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1900 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Creek Nation, Indian Territories, ED 50, Sheet 23

The 1890 Census for Arkansas is lost, so we have to jump all the way back to 1880.  In that case, we find Robert Sr. as a toddler in his parents home.  We find Robert in the home of John H. and Martha A. Dickson.  John is age 44, born in Alabama.  His father was born in Tennessee and his mother in Virginia.  John’s wife (presumably Robert’s mother) is Martha A. Dickson, age 23, from Alabama.  Nothing is recorded for her parents birth places.  They are living in 1880 in Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas.

Robert is 2 years old in this census.  Also listed in the house are his older brother Cecil Dickson, age 4, and his younger sister, Minnie Z. Dickson, age 8 months.

1880 US Census - Dickson
U.S. 1880 Federal Census, Population Schedule, Bridge Bend Township, Prairie County, Arkansas, ED 247, Page 31

This is a good place to pause.  We have traced backward in the census and found Robert Sr. as a child in his parents’ home and have identified his father and presumably his mother.  We have good clues where his parents were born.

Next steps will be:

  • Press farther back in the census to track John H. Dickson and possibly identify his family of origin.
  • Move forward tracing Robert Sr’s siblings and parents in order get a better picture of them to allow us to move back.
  • Investigate the minister with whom Robert Sr. was boarding in Indian Territories.  Was he connected to the family at all, or just someone who needed a farm hand?
  • Identify other documents and sources that might shed light on Robert’s family line.